This post is part of a series where we celebrate the many beautiful and characterful sights of Princeton, NJ. You can find previous entries in this series here and here or by searching the blog for ‘beautiful walkable Princeton’.
Dorothea’s House was established as an Italian-American community group in 1913. According to their excellent website, the organization:
“serves the community as an Italian-American cultural institution, providing programs, events, and a link from the Princeton of today to the Italian immigrants who settled in the area over 100 years ago.”
The ‘Dorothea’ who gave the center its name was Dorothea Van Dyke MacLane, the daughter of Princeton University professor, Dr Henry Van Dyke. A Presbyterian minister, Van Dyke was furthermore appointed as an overseas diplomat by Woodrow Wilson, and during the course of his career was an opponent of the annexation of the Phillipines by the USA, warning that “‘If we enter the course of foreign conquest, the day is not far distant when we must spend in annual preparation for wars more than…we now spend every year in the education of our children for peace'”.
Sadly, Dorothea died at the age of just 23 during childbirth, and Van Dyke dedicated space behind his home on Bayard Lane for the construction of the “Dorothea’s House” center, which was completed in 1914 and stand in a remarkable state of preservation today. The center provides Italian language classes, hosts speakers, exhibitions and movie nights, and offers scholarships.